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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes likely in SPLM-N and Jebel Marra areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • June 2017 - January 2018
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes likely in SPLM-N and Jebel Marra areas

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Humanitarian assistance needs are expected to remain high due to continued needs among IDPs and resident households in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, IDPs in Jebel Marra, refugees from South Sudan, households in localized areas that saw poor harvests in 2016, as well as well as long-term IDPs. Through the peak of the lean season between June and September 2017, up to four million people will likely require assistance, with needs likely to decline with harvests between October 2017 and January 2018.

    • SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and IDPs in Jebel Marra will likely be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) between June and September 2017. Displacement and restricted population movements are resulting in reduced own crop production, high staple food prices, and disruptions to normal livelihood activities. In South Kordofan, humanitarian access also remains restricted.

    • Starting in October, food security outcomes will improve to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Jebel Marra and SPLM-N-controlled areas due to increased wild food availability, increased community support, and slight improvements in access to food via market purchases. 

    • Throughout Sudan, household food access should start to improve beginning in October with the onset of harvests, access to harvest labor and livestock products, and seasonal declines in staple food prices. Although much of the season remains, rainfall progress to date has been favorable, and international and regional forecasts suggest cumulative will be average in most areas of Sudan during the main June to September 2017 rainy season.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Seasonal progress. The onset of the main June to September rainy season has been early or on time in much of western, southern, eastern, and parts of northern Sudan (Figure 1). According to RFE 2.0 and ARC2 satellite-derived rainfall estimates, rainfall since the beginning of June has been above average across most areas. Rainfall over some areas such as eastern areas of South Kordofan and southern Blue Nile State has reached between 100-200 mm during the month of June, which is well above what is typical. In high crop-producing areas such as Gadaref and Sennar starts, rainfall has been more than 20 percent above normal for the month of June.

    Good performance of early season rainfall has enabled the start of cropping activities, including earlier than normal planting of crops in some western and central areas. Overall, planting is expecting to continue through mid-July, which is normal. Though earlier in the season, vegetation conditions are beginning to respond to early season rainfall. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) shows above average levels of vegetation beginning to emerge in parts of Blue Nile and Sennar State, as well as parts of central South Kordofan.

    With heavier than normal rainfall early in the season, there have also been reports of localized flooding in Atbara town in River Nile State, Singa town in Sennar State, Al Rahad locality in Gadaref State, and Nyala in South Darfur State. In some areas, some flooding is seasonally normal and can support cropping activities. However, if rainfall continues to be heavy, flooding could lead to localized losses of crops, livestock, and household assets.

    Markets, prices, and terms of trade. The annual CFSAM conducted in late 2016 estimated total 2016/17 cereal production at well above average levels, with sorghum and millet production both estimated to be more than 60 percent above the recent five-year average. Following these harvests, sorghum and millet prices have mostly followed typical seasonal trends between November 2016 and May 2017. In May 2017, wholesale prices of sorghum in Gadaref market, a main production market, remained similar to the five-year average and approximately 25 percent less than in May 2016 (Figure 2). In May 2016 prices likely continued to reflect below-average market supply following poor harvests in 2015/16, while recent above-average harvests beginning in October/November 2016 have substantially improved trader stocks and market supply, and reduced overall household demand on markets.

    Nevertheless, retail staple food prices are higher than normal on several western markets. On the markets of Ed Daein, El Fasher, Geneina, and Zalingei, retail sorghum prices are 20 to 50 percent higher than last year, and 40 to 90 percent higher than the recent four-year average. On the same markets, retail millet prices are 15 to 40 percent higher than last year, and 30 to 65 percent higher than the recent four-year average. Despite overall above-average national production in 2016/17, these atypically high prices are being driven by high demand for local consumption, low local production and high cost of transportation from main areas of surplus in central Sudan. 

    Locally produced wheat prices were stable or declined marginally but seasonably as fresh supplies from the March-to-April 2017 harvest started entering the market. However, May levels of wheat prices were 21 percent above their respective 2016 and 64 percent above the recent five-year average prices.

    Terms of trade between daily wage labor and sorghum in Gadaref increased slightly between April and May 2017 following a significant drop in February, which are now at 29 kg of sorghum per day of wage labor in May compared to 41 kg per day of wage labor in January. This is mainly due to increased wages of agricultural labor from SDG 70 per day to SDG 80 per day between April and May as result of increased demand for agricultural labor as agricultural activities of the recently started rainy season. However, May level of ToT between daily wage labor and sorghum are 50 and 40 percent above their respective last year and two-year average due to increased wages this year.

    Livestock prices remained either stable or increased moderately between January and May 2017, mainly due to the relatively better livestock body condition and increased exports of animals this year. In general, May 2017 goat prices are higher than in May 2016 and the recent five-year average. Current terms-of-trade between goats and sorghum is on 5 to 14 percent lower than of the same period last year and 12 to 23 percent lower than recent three-year average. Goat to sorghum terms of trade are also well above average on most major markets, including El Obeid, Nyala, Kadugli, and Kassala.

    According to the Sudan’s central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the consumer price index in April 2017 reached 737.98 points, up 14.90 points from March while the general food and beverage price index rose by 26.06 points in April. It pointed out that the price index for goods and services continues to increase monthly. According to the CBS, the food and beverage group contributed to the overall price rise by 1.91 percent, while the other 11 goods and service groups contributed 0.16 percent.

    Conflict and insecurity. The declared unilateral six-month ceasefire in January 2017, between Government of Sudan from one side and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), Sudan Liberation Army – Mini Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equity Movement (JEM) jointly from the other side, has been maintained in SPLM-N controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile through May 2017. However, fighting erupted between SAF and Darfur rebel groups in several areas in North and East Darfur states during April and May 2017.

    South Sudanese refugees. In May 2017, approximately 42,000 refugees arrived from South Sudan, bringing the total number of new arrivals in 2017 to more than 120,000 people. East Darfur State hosts the largest number of South Sudanese refugees, including one-third of all new arrivals in 2017 and one-fourth of all 418,000 new arrivals since the start of conflict in November 2013. While the onset of rains during June has started to limit the flow refugees into Sudan, UNHCR reports there were approximately 4,000 new arrivals during the first half of June 2017.

    Malnutrition screenings. During March 2017, the Sudan Ministry of Health and UNICEF conducted MUAC screening for acute malnutrition among children under-five in 16 out of 18 states. Out of 2,599,524 children screened, approximately 83,232 children were identified as acutely malnourished, including 22,029 children with severe acute malnutrition who were referred for treatment. The highest numbers of cases were reported in Central and North Darfur states, with 3,103 and 2,786 cases, respectively. North Jebel Marra and central Jebel Marra of Central Darfur state were identified as localities with the highest Oedema cases (393 and 368 cases) identified.

    Humanitarian assistance. Between January and May 2017, WFP and implementing partners provided approximately 3 million beneficiaries with 60,904 MT of in-kind assistance and $ 10.9 million in cash vouchers, which represents 75 percent of the planned quantity and 58 percent of the planned cash voucher equivalent value. WFP is planning to distribute a total of 109,574 MT and USD 28 million in cash vouchers 3.5 million beneficiaries between July and December 2017.


    The most likely food security scenario for June 2017 through January 2018 is based on the following assumptions:

    • Cumulative rainfall is expected to be average in Sudan during the main June to September 2017 rainy season.
    • Planting of main season crops is likely to take place slightly earlier than normal or on time, and area planted is likely to be near average, due to a slightly earlier than normal start of season to date and based on the assumption main season rainfall will be near average.
    • As is typical during an average rainy season, some flooding is expected near Blue Nile tributaries during the peak of the rainy season.
    • Harvests of staple foods and cash crops for the 2017/18 season are likely to be near average in most parts of Sudan. However, production is expected to be limited by insecurity, continued displacement away from cultivation areas, and a lack of agricultural inputs in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Darfur, and Blue Nile states.
    • Average area planted, good crop performance, and average harvests are expected to result in normal pre-harvest agricultural labor opportunities through September and normal harvest labor opportunities between November 2017 and January 2018.
    • Fall Armyworm (FAW) is not expected to have a major impact on overall 2017/18 cereal and cash crop production.
    • Average rainfall is expected to result in normal availability of pasture and water for livestock in pastoral and agropastoral areas through at least January 2018. As a result, livestock body conditions and milk production are expected to be normal, peaking in August/September 2017. However, continued competition and conflict over natural resources and natural resource, and tension between farmers and pastoralists is likely in some areas through January 2018.
    • Agricultural and agropastoral households’ food stocks are likely to be replenished to near-average levels with own-produced foods from harvests starting in October 2017.
    • High inflation rate and local currency devaluation likely to persist through January 2018, with the prices of basic goods (food and non-food) likely to increase during the scenario period.
    • Prices of sorghum and millet are expected to increase seasonably through August, before starting to decline in September as traders begin to release stocks on the market in preparation for restocking as harvests begin to arrive in October/November. Sorghum and millet price levels are likely to remain similar to those observed in 2017, but are likely to remain somewhat above average.
    • Sorghum exports to northern South Sudan are expected to increase seasonably and be higher than last year, but still below the recent five-year average level, attributable to insecurity-related trade disruptions, and low purchasing power. Exports to Eritrea are expected to increase seasonably, but be higher than last year because of availability of a significant amount of tradable stock.
    • Livestock prices are expected to continue to increase seasonably following the start of the June to September rains, as increased availability of water and pasture improve animal body conditions. Export demand, particularly for sheep and cattle to Gulf and Saudi Arabia, are anticipated to increase during Hajj religious festivities.
    • The terms of trade between livestock and staple foods are likely to follow seasonal trends and remain near or above the recent four-year average in most markets.
    • Ongoing ceasefires between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-N, SLA-MM, and JEM, are expected to be maintained through January 2018. In SPLM-N areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the conflict situation is expected to remain calm, particularly as the rainy season begins to reduce road access and limit troop movement. However, the increased tension and disagreement between different factions of SPLM-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile is likely to result in internal conflicts and increased tension. In Darfur, recent fighting between SAF and rebel groups in several areas of North and East Darfur states is likely to increase tension and direct fighting in Darfur. However, no major new displacement is expected in Darfur between June 2017 and January 2018.
    • Tribal clashes in the Darfur and Kordofan states are likely to continue to disrupt livelihood activities, including crop cultivation, and to disrupt market supplies and access to markets.
    • Population movements within SPLM-N controlled areas and from SPLM-N controlled areas to SAF areas is likely to continue to be limited during scenario period.
    • WFP and implementing partners will likely provide food assistance to over 3.5 million beneficiaries with 109,574 MT of in-kind assistance and about $ 28 million cash voucher to affected people in different parts of the country including IDPs and conflict-affected people in Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile and refugees from South Sudan. However, humanitarian access to IDPs and conflict-affected people in SPLM-N controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile will remain restricted through the scenario period.
    • Arrivals of South Sudanese refugees are likely to continue into East Darfur, White Nile, West Kordofan, South Kordofan and South Darfur states between June 2017 and January 2018. However, the rate of new arrivals is expected to decrease during the June to September rainy season compared to dry season levels as the rainy season limits road access.

    Most likely food security outcomes through January 2018

    The scenario period of June 2017 to January 2018, covers peak lean season period of June to September through October to January main season harvest period in Sudan. The protracted conflict in Greater Darfur since 2003 and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011 has disrupted access to main livelihood activities, function of markets, eroded household’s livelihood assets holdings and limited household’s access to income earning opportunities in the conflict-affected areas, therefor, household’s access to food in the conflict-affected areas has been seriously limited by the low purchasing power, high staple food prices and reduced own production. During the first half of the scenario period which is a typical peak lean season, access to food in conflict-affected areas is likely to be further reduced by soaring prices and limited access to markets, therefore, majority of people in the worse conflict-affected areas will not be able to meet their minimum food and non-food needs without external food assistance and/or engaging in non-reversible coping strategies, and will therefore be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September 2017, people in the drought affected areas of North Darfur and refugees from South Sudan likely to be in in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) number of food insecure people will likely peak at more than four million during the June to September lean season, including more than 120,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    During the second half of the scenario period of October to January 2018, as average normal rainfall expected to result in average harvests starting in October, households will begin to rebuild stocks, staple food prices will start to decline seasonally, livestock productivity will begin to peak, and seasonal agricultural labor will provide income for poor households. These improvements in own-produced foods, access to seasonal wild foods, improved purchasing power, and the availability of livestock products such as milk will improve household food access and many areas will return to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. Nevertheless, some households, particularly IDPs in conflict-affected Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, West Kordofan, and refugees from Sudan will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as continued displacement limits their access to land, normal levels of agricultural labor, and less income than usual with which to purchase staple foods, likely at well above-average prices in the areas worst affected by continued conflict.


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Current food security outcomes, June 2017

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, June 2017

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (grains), start- of-season anomaly, June 11-20, 2017

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (grains), start- of-season anomaly, June 11-20, 2017

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Wholesale sorghum (feterita) prices (SDG/90 kg sack), Gadaref market

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. Wholesale sorghum (feterita) prices (SDG/90 kg sack), Gadaref market

    Source: FAMIS/MFoA

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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